June Holiday to be Renamed National Indigenous Peoples Day (Observed)


This media release has been issued by the City of St. John’s and is crossposted here.

St. John’s, NL — Today, City Council approved the renaming of the June Holiday to National Indigenous Peoples Day (Observed).

The Province has historically observed a holiday in June on the Monday nearest to June 24, which is referred to as “June Day”. June Day was previously called Discovery Day to commemorate the arrival of John Cabot on the island of Ktaqmkuk (Newfoundland) in 1497. In its Final Report, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on all governments to acknowledge the problematic nature of the narrative of discovery in relation to Indigenous Peoples.

The decision to rename the holiday was made in collaboration with the urban Indigenous community. The timing of the June Holiday aligns closely with National Indigenous Peoples Day, which is marked across Canada on June 21. This day is an opportunity to celebrate and honour the diverse cultures, contributions, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples in Canada.

“Reorienting the holiday formerly known as Discovery Day to instead honour and celebrate the diverse cultures of Indigenous Peoples in the province is a simple yet deeply meaningful way to advance truth and reconciliation here in the City. We hope it will serve as an example to be followed by other municipalities as well as the Province.”

—Stacey Howse, Executive Director, First Light

The City is a partner with First Voice, which is led by First Light, and has made commitments outlined in Council’s 2020 Declaration in Support of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Council has committed to working with First Voice to advance the urban Indigenous coalition’s 2023 Community Action Plan and its Calls for Change. Call for Change 20 makes a commitment to work with all levels of government to ensure that National Indigenous Peoples Day is recognized as an official and statutory holiday.

“Recognition of the June Holiday as a celebration of National Indigenous Peoples Day is a great first step towards the goal of having the whole province observe June 21 as a provincial day of recognition,” said Mayor Danny Breen. “We are thankful to have the St. John’s and First Voice Joint Coordinating Committee discuss meaningful ways we can instill positive change and honour our commitments to truth and reconciliation. This committee has discussed the City’s recognition of National Indigenous Peoples Day and believe that it would be a significant step forward in the partnership and towards a more inclusive community.”

As the Province has not declared June 21 a holiday, jurisdictional limitations mean that the City cannot move the holiday to fully align with NIPD. As a result, the City will recognize NIPD as an observed holiday on Monday June 24. The City encourages its employees and residents to participate in NIPD events on June 21 and to utilize the holiday on Monday to continue to learn about, celebrate, and honour the cultures, contributions, and resilience of Indigenous Peoples in our City, Province, and country.


Media Contact

Justin Campbell
Director of Advocacy
First Light St. John’s Friendship Centre
[email protected]